Monsters are great for expressing feelings and exploring behaviour because they look a little like us, but are far enough removed to feel safe and fun. We can project our feelings and thoughts onto a puppet such as this, but imagine we are playing and this keeps us lighthearted.
The more I work with children and young people, the more I see evidence that exploring feelings and behaviours in a lighthearted manner is where the biggest growth and understanding happens. It is as if we learn about ourselves in spite of our ego and desire to control our thoughts. Our inner self is allowed to come forward through the medium of puppetry and this creates an honest, deep rooted response to situations and occurrences that may worry us and bring up fear. Keeping the energy light and playful, allows us to think outside the box and come up with solutions that will work for the individuals in the room. The fact that solutions may be different for each of us, is made safe by putting them onto the monster puppet and keeping a third party indifference. Of course we can then take the information on board in a more personal way when we leave the session and have some alone time.
For younger children, we can end the workshop by having a quiet 'sleep' with our puppets where we whisper in our puppet's ear what we found helpful today and our puppet can whisper back what it thinks will help us moving forward. This quiet, personal time with a puppet is where the reflection and transference can happen in a safe and non judgement way.
Here at The Hands-On Company, we are now making large monsters similar to the one above. We create a pack of smaller monsters that come in multiples of six, alongside one large monster for the teacher or facilitator to use. Teacher notes are being written at the moment to accompany these packs. More details will be available soon.